Liverpool return to Premier League action when they face newly-promoted Sheffield United in a lunch time kick off at Bramall Lane.
Both clubs were involved in Carabao Cup action during the week with each club having mixed results on the pitch. An under-strength Sheffield United were knocked out by League One Sunderland, a wonder-strike from the aptly-named Max Power proved to be the difference between the two sides.
Liverpool’s young guns impressed in their 2-0 win over MK Dons. Goals from James Milner and Ki-Jana Hoever saw the Reds set up a last 16 tie against Arsenal. Harvey Elliott was the stand out player, his overall play even more impressive considering his age and he was unlucky not to score as he hit the crossbar twice.
Due to the two sides fielding weakened teams in the League Cup, the midweek games won’t hold much insight into how the clubs have performed in the League.
The Blades have been one of the surprise packages of the season, claiming big scalps away from home by fighting for a point at and winning at Everton despite being dominated for the majority of the game.
Their home requires improvement, though. They claimed three points in only one game at Bramall Lane, against a Crystal Palace side who always seems to under-perform considering the talent they have on offer.
Losses against Southampton and Leicester could be considered unlucky considering the balance of play, as it took a moment of brilliance in both games to see the away side claim all three points showcasing how well drilled the Yorkshire club are.
Liverpool sit atop the Premier League table, winning all six of their League games so far. An important victory in their last game saw them overcome a talented Chelsea side full of young players.
The young side stood resolute but were clearly inexperienced and it showed, especially in the first 30 minutes. Liverpool got in and around the box far too easily and, from this, scored twice, both from free-kicks.
Trent Alexander-Arnold got the opener finding the top corner after Mohamed Salah’s layoff, while 15 minutes later Liverpool doubled their advantage as Andy Robertson’s cross found the head of Roberto Firmino who headed in from close range. N’golo Kanté’s strike 20 minutes from time halved the deficit but Chelsea were unable to capitalise on late pressure.
This win saw Liverpool reclaim their 5 point advantage over their title rivals and built on their previous wins which saw them defeat Burnley and Newcastle, a win against Sheffield would put their winning streak at 16 – just two wins away from the record.
Sheffield United have played with three at the back all season and Chris Wilder is not expected to change his team or his tactics majorly.
Dean Henderson, on loan from Manchester United, will keep his place in goal after putting in many impressive performances so far this season.
Jack O’Connell, Chris Basham and John Egan have formed a strong back three conceding just six goals so far in the league. Not only that, but the trio also carry an attacking threat. The first two names mentioned will provide width along with the wing-backs Enda Stevens and George Baldock.
In midfield will likely be John Fleck, Oliver Norwood and John Lundstram, this midfield three will be supported by the wing-backs, unless the centre backs join the attack. When this happens, the full-backs will fall back into the defence seamlessly – part of their solidity at the back.
In attack, Oli McBurnie will be joined by one of Callum Robinson or Lys Mousset. Billy Sharp is banned while David McGoldrick is a doubt.
Klopp will probably make 11 changes and revert back to the starting 11 that was victorious at Stamford Bridge, none of the players who started that game were involved in the matchday squad at Stadium MK, meaning a fully refreshed team should be available for selection.
Adrián has been very impressive during a busier-than-expected start to his Anfield career. As the weeks have gone on his overall play has improved, most notably his distribution. United have some physical forwards and cross the ball often, so it will be a new test for the Spaniard.
Two others who will have their work cut out are Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson. They often deal with silky wingers, but against The Blades it will be marauding centre backs who will venture into wide positions to supply the strikers.
Fabinho, Georginio Wijnaldum and Jordan Henderson will be up against a midfield five when in possession. Space will be limited so their use of the ball must be quick and effective.
Sadio Mané has brushed off a knock and should be available to play up front with Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah.
Liverpool haven’t won at Bramall Lane in their last six attempts. The Reds’ most recent win away at Sheffield United was a 3-1 victory on August 25, 1990, with second-half strikes from John Barnes, Ray Houghton and Ian Rush putting the Blades to the sword.
This game will be more difficult than some people make it out to be, Chris Wilder has built a good side and has got that side playing excellent football, despite the fact that it is quite peculiar. Using attacking centre backs is unheard of, especially considering the high standard of the division, but credit where its due, it seems to be working.
Liverpool’s quality should shine through, especially given the fact that team has been given a week off to prepare for the match, Firmino may have less of an impact in this match due to numbers in midfield so I think our wide men will win us the game with Salah and Mané both scoring in a routine win.
Predicted final score: Sheffield United 1-3 Liverpool